Investing in the Future of Default Servicing

Industry Update
April 11, 2018

Source: DS News

Editor’s Note: This story was originally featured in the April issue of DS News, out now.

With a quarter of 2018 under our belt, it’s clear that our prediction—that the financial service industry will continue to place a high emphasis on strategic technology investments—was right. Technology modernization and digital transformation are among the top reasons banks, credit unions, lenders, and servicers are investing and updating systems. These organizations are looking for solutions to overcome some of the same challenges the industry has faced for years, such as the need to keep pace with increased regulations, provide efficient service at a lower operational cost, and easily access the crucial information they need to make smart decisions.

The default servicing industry in particular faces extraordinary challenges to meet the needs of homeowners, investors and industry regulators to increase transparency and consistency within processes and drive accountability for decisions. We’re seeing emerging technology help servicers streamline, automate, and integrate operations to eliminate inefficient processes and keep up with changing regulations.

Increased Self-Service Avenues

The need for self-service channels extends through all parts of the loan process, from origination to funding, closing, and servicing. Borrowers require more self-service avenues to not only originate a loan request but also to meet the transparency demands through the process to get timely and accurate updates. This need exists for servicing as well.

Modern technology alone can provide the level of transparency required. Websites, portals, cloud-based sharing platforms, and mobile integrations are all examples of various methods by which lenders and servicers create a more fluid and transparent loan experience for their customers. The lending world is adopting these types of technologies at a rapid pace to stay ahead of the competition.

Better Integrations for Data Collection

The mortgage industry relies heavily on data. Often, information is gathered, stored, and retrieved from multiple places, creating silos that are not easily accessible from the primary line of business application one is working in when they need it. This process causes extra steps and wasted time bouncing between apps to find the right information. Many servicers are leveraging enterprise information platforms to remove information silos and connect data, regardless of where that information originates.

These information platforms work as a hub to connect disparate IT systems and data, so information is updated simultaneously. This helps employees evaluate loan documents and packages faster, knowing the information is accurate and make the best decision for the organization. With increased confidence that data is current, regardless of which application an employee is accessing that data, they gain time and confidence back.

Automated Data Validation

In many industries, it’s vital to ensure data is correct from the moment it is ingested to avoid costly mistakes later. New regulations are driving demand for quality control and transparency throughout the process, extending servicer accountability for actions of third-party providers. Automated data extraction technology takes the burden of manually gathering, reviewing, and approving information off staff, removing this tedious and error-prone task from their job.

Modern enterprise information platforms can extract the right information from a form using data extraction and validate that information by creating configurable rules per data field. The capture capabilities within these applications can perform mathematical functions or develop procedures by accordance with specific business processes, to further validate the information pulled from a document and compare it with values that exist in other systems. Once data is extracted, exceptions can be flagged and presented to staff to verify, along with the corresponding documentation, allowing for a quick and easy exception review process.

Sophisticated Business Process Management/Workflow

As the financial services industry continues to embrace technology to promote fully digital processes, functionality such as business process management (BPM)/workfl ow becomes essential to automate time-consuming and manual processes. Transparency and consistency are among the top reasons servicers are seeking workflow–to know every process is following the same steps, ensure compliance, and see a holistic view of the process to determine where bottlenecks hinder efficiency. It can become overwhelming to manage the sheer amount of documentation required within default servicing procedures–if the information is lost it becomes risky as well.

The best workflow solutions offer servicers capabilities to keep processes moving as quickly as possible, resulting in lower processing costs and increased consumer satisfaction. Not only do these solutions route the right information to the right person, at the right time, they also include timers and reminders to keep procedures moving and meet deadlines to speed loan modifications, foreclosure, and REO. Flagging of incomplete data prevents issues arising from missing information.

Electronic Delivery

Servicers have historically relied on paper files sent from their lenders, brokers, and correspondents. As the lending industry moves toward digitization, this reliance on paper can be detrimental to a servicer’s ability to scale with the necessary demand. Servicers recognize that the ultimate cost on a per-loan basis directly correlates to their ability to accurately collect documents and data on the loans they receive and respond quickly to the increased demand.

Technology has provided advantages for lenders and servicers to standardize the coordination, packaging, and delivery of loan files for processing. From meeting the individual requirements of each lending partner to ensuring compliance with federal mandates for uniform data delivery, technology can fill those gaps that the paper-based world left behind. Technologies that allow lenders to package loans in specific stacking orders, deliver files through enterprise file sync, and share platforms and give servicers the capabilities to capture, classify, and extract relevant data can have the ability to fundamentally transform how a servicer ultimately thrives in today’s competitive lending environment.

Some of the biggest struggles the industry continues to face include eliminating paper, garnering the right information, and promoting a (mostly) digital business. Using core functionality within an enterprise information platform, which works as an information hub to gather all information, servicers can connect IT systems, people, and processes to increase confidence in decisions and fully automate procedures. Decreasing reliance on paper ensures all information is included and bolsters compliance efforts to meet industry regulations. It provides increased transparency into processes, so managers know exactly where processes lie at any particular time. Tracking every action on a document makes audits easier.

Increased self-service, better technology integrations, automated data validation, BPM/workflow tools, and electronic delivery are some of the biggest technology trends we’ll continue to see lenders and servicers implement to support their digital transformation efforts.



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.